Lake Norman Chamber to focus on Langtree at the Lake

Steve Welly

Langtree at the Lake will be the subject this Friday of the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce’s Focus Friday business briefing at the Chamber located at 19900 W Catawba Avenue in Cornelius.  The program will be held Friday, Oct 26th 8-9:30 a.m.  Steve Welly, the President and Chief Operating Officer of RL West and Langtree Development will give an overview of the project.  Approximately 47,000 square feet of retail space is being built in the southwest quadrant of the I-77/Langtree Road interchange, bordering on the lake. Four of the first seven buildings to be constructed are currently under construction.

The project was the recent subject of a special “Newsmakers” breakfast in Cornelius two weeks ago when the developers unveiled plans to build an “EthoSphere,” a 14-story, 306,000 square foot building. According to Business Today, “The EthoSphere will be one of the tallest buildings in the area – the Hilton at University Place has only 12 stories—and will brand Langtree at the Lake as the “Gateway to Iredell,” a phrase the backers of the 400-acre Langtree project have used to describe Langtree.”

Joining Welly is Mooresville Mayor Miles Atkins who will share how the project will impact Mooresville and change the dynamics of that lake community.  Jerry Broadway, Executive Director of the Lake Norman Regional Economic Development Corporation will also speak to the regional economic impact of Langtree at the Lake on Cornelius, Davidson, and Huntersville and add an additional resource when regional EDCs market the lake to primary job creators and corporations.

Welly started his real estate career in Toledo, OH in 1983 in the brokerage business and soon became the head of a regional brokerage firm/investment sales department. In December of 1999 he became President and COO of Rudolph/Libbe Properties.  Rudolph/Libbe Properties merged with Park West Development in April 2009 and RL West Properties was formed, with Steve serving as President and COO of the new firm.   He has developed real estate throughout the Midwest as well as North and South Carolina. RL West is based in Sylvania, Ohio with an office in Mooresville, NC.

The Lake Norman Chamber’s Focus Friday is a program for Chamber members and their guest and is sponsored by DavidsonNews.net.  Breakfast is provided by Earth Fare of Huntersville.  For more information, contact the Lake Norman Chamber at 704-892-1922.

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Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce Recognizes Cool Breeze Cyclery as Small Business of the Year

Cool Breeze Cyclery Team

The Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce has selected Mooresville’s Cool Breeze Cyclery as the 2012 Small Business of the Year. Chamber Chairman of the Board Jack Salzman presented the award to owners Steve Doolittle and Chris Vasiloff at a reception held at the Chamber Thursday, May 24th. The business carries Trek, Gary Fisher Signature, and Cervelo bikes with 12 full time employees. They have two locations in Mooresville and Charlotte. Salzman announced that a committee comprised of himself, Hilary Broadway – Chamber Chairman for Business Growth, and Denis Bilodeau – Chairman of Community Affairs, selected the recipients from nominations received from the membership. Criteria including growth in revenues, staying power, innovative marketing and management practices, growth in employees, business friendly nature of the business, and involvement in the community.

The Cool Breeze Cyclery opened a new location six years ago in Charlotte after operating more than a decade in downtown Mooresville. The company created its own signature “Lake Norman Excursion” charity ride for the American Red Cross. Attendance has grown to nearly 1,000 riders in its sixth year and the combined charitable contribution to the Red Cross exceeds $80,000. The Chamber also recognized Pat Helmandollar of Savvy Salon and Day Spa in Cornelius as the runner up. Salzman cited that the business has anchored its shopping center creating a center of business vitality and undergoing a recent remodeling. In 2011, Savvy Salon saw a 44% increase in gift certificates with 40 employees involved in the business. Helmandollar spoke about their community focus, Make A Wish, as a priority fundraiser.

Small Business Runner Up – Savvy Salon & Day Spa

In addition to the winner and runner up, the Chamber also recognized The Welcome Committee, Inc. in Mooresville and Uncommon Scents, Inc. in Huntersville as two outstanding small businesses who were cited as Honorable Mentions. “The Honorable Mentions were themselves outstanding businesses. Each of these nominations demonstrated a growth in revenue; had marketing or management practices that made them stand out, and each gave back to the community,” stated Salzman. The reception wrapped a week-long series of events which included seminars conducted by the Small Business Administration and SCORE as well as business and sales coaches on networking and marketing a business on the Internet.

The three Towns of Cornelius, Davidson, and Huntersville each proclaimed May 21-25 Small Business Week in partnership with the Chamber and the Small Business Administration. For more information on the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce, visit their website at http://www.lakenormanchamber.org.org or call 704-892-1922.

A Place Called Hope

1999 Chamber Chairman Scott Hinkle

In November of 1995, I was interviewed for the position of Executive Vice President of the North Mecklenburg Chamber. I was at the time the Executive Director of a small low country South Carolina Chamber. After interviewing with the search committee comprised of Chamber leaders, I was offered a position effective January 2, 1996. While I was not to begin my employment until January, I was asked to attend and participate in the Chamber’s in-town planning retreat, my other Chamber permitting. It was there I met a young man who would have a profound impact on my personal and professional development, as well as forge a bond that would help change the face of our community and region. We were divided into small groups and there I met the editor and publisher of The Lake Norman Times – Scott Hinkle. Scott was a “Tarheel” and I was a “Gamecock” and each would debate the coveted moniker of which school could legitimately call themselves “Carolina.”

I was also a right wing conservative republican and Hinkle was a left wing liberal democrat. However, our mutual love of history and politics would seal our friendship. We were both passionate about issues and we found we both agreed that the spirit of capitalism, entrepreneurship, and free enterprise should always trump the role the public sector plays in our local economy. I will always recall sitting down with Scott and sharing with him an idea for a Chamber publication that could tell the story of our organization. He then expounded on the premise with excitement and eagerness and the Lake Norman Chamber Quarterly was born. As a York County, South Carolina native, I had a difficult time getting my hand around the significance of the term “North Mecklenburg” and felt we were losing marketing potential by not utilizing the greatest resource available – Lake Norman. Why not change the name of the Chamber to reflect that strength? While it seems so insignificant today – changing the name of the Chamber was a huge step for the Chamber. It took real political courage to carry that message and convince the old guard to adapt to a new branding for our association. I’ll never forget when I asked what he would do if the older, more established Chamber and community leaders balked at this new initiative. Scott reflected for a moment, and then replied, “Quite frankly, I’ll say it’s the lake stupid!” he said with his sly grin.

The announcement of our name change was one of many small but yet significant challenges Scott dared tackle. He reveled in being the watchdog for the interests of citizens and businesses through his editorials and while I would never say “he kept an elected official honest” he served notice that he would call their hand on anything he felt was not in the best interest of our community. Scott Hinkle adored Bill Clinton and felt while President Clinton had his faults, he had led us through an era of economic prosperity. Scott would often tickle me by giving his best Bill Clinton impression. Scott would poke out his lower lip and bite on it just a little. Then with a deep sullen look, point out his fist, clenched tightly with his thumb sticking out, and in a southern, croaky, Bill Clintonesque voice say, “I still believe in a place called hope.” This past month, we lost a dynamic community leader to a massive stroke.

While there are no subdivisions bearing his name; no bridges or roads named in his honor; and likely no schools named in his memory, Scott Hinkle perhaps did more to give us a sense of community than anyone else that has ever lived and worked at Lake Norman. He was my chairman, he was a mentor, and he was a very dear friend. I’m fortunate to work at a Chamber he helped build at a lake he so loved. We are a much better community because of Scott. We work, we live, and we visit in a place called hope and for those who don’t get it… “It’s the lake stupid.”

Regionalism – From a Clown’s Point of View

Joey the Clown

Joey the Clown

Tom Peters, Stephen Covey, Kenneth Blanchard, Brooks Lindsay….Brooks Lindsay?  While the name Brooks Lindsay may not be recognizable as a leading authority on business acumen, mention “Joey the Clown” around those of us over 40 with roots in the Charlotte region and we remember the smiles he brought to children every afternoon on WSOC Television.  Lindsay passed away six years ago this month, but not before he made a lasting impression on a generation of Charlotte children.

I was one of those who had the opportunity to participate in a neighborhood buddy’s birthday party that was hosted at Joey’s “Clown Carnival”.  Each little boy or girl had a chance at stardom when Joey let us introduce ourselves on his show.  It was a really big deal for a kid to appear on the Joey the Clown Show and I can still recall all the family relatives who commented on my “first television gig”.

What many may take for granted now – Lindsay’s program was one of the very first racially integrated shows from the beginning.  At the conclusion of each show, Joey ended his program by reminding the kids on the program and out there in TV Land – “Boys and Girls, when you grow up, remember be nice, because all we have in this ‘ol world is each other.”

One of the underlying principles of the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce from its inception in 1987 is the concept of regionalism.  More than two decades ago, business leaders from Cornelius, Davidson, and Huntersville began working together to foster the business growth and well-being of our region.  Long before “regionalism” become a buzzword, Chamber leaders encouraged our political and community leaders to look past the rivalries and municipal boundaries that inhibited our growth as a region and as a community. 

It is natural for an elected official to protect his or her district.  Politicians are rewarded for “bringing home the bacon.”  However, we now live in a global economy and the markets of Asia and Europe dramatically impact the United States economy.  Closer to home, a corporate business expanding in Davidson will impact the residents and businesses of Huntersville and a new company locating in Mooresville will benefit the Town of Cornelius.

In 2001, the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce commissioned an economic development study performed by the firm of Leake Goforth.  The study made recommendations for the potential commercial growth of our region.  Our 2000 Strategic Plan called for the Chamber to examine the possibility of creating an economic development authority and in 2002 we began lobbying the towns of Cornelius, Davidson, and Huntersville to consider creating a regional Economic Development Corporation (EDC).

It wasn’t easy.  The long time turf issue reared it’s head on many occasions, but at the end of the day, leaders in all three towns approved a public – private partnership spearheaded by the towns and the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce.  Today, the region is served by three regional economic development agencies:  The Lake Norman Chamber, the Lake Norman Regional EDC, and Visit Lake Norman.  All three work together to promote the economic growth and vitality of our region.

If we are to succeed and prosper as a region – we must work together and support projects in other communities which will in turn benefit the citizens and businesses of neighboring communities.  It’s as simple as that.

Thirty-five years ago, a man dressed up in grease paint and entertained a generation of children. He made us laugh, appearing as a loveable Hobo.  He also made a lasting impression.  To many of us, he reminded us everyday to work together…because after all…”all we have in this ‘ol world….is each other.”

Lake Norman Makes Big Splash in BusinessWeek Magazine

ln_summerEvery day, Americans across this country continue to read and hear about the negative economic indicators citing our economic recession. While we in the Lake Norman community share in the challenging and uncertain market, many of our business and community leaders can take great pride in what readers across this nation are just finding out – the Lake Norman region is a great place to live, work and visit. BusinessWeek Magazine has reinforced that claim by naming Cornelius one of the country’s Ten “Best Affordable Suburbs.”  

Cornelius was ranked #1 in North Carolina and 7th overall in the nation. The magazine pointed out such factors as livability, which includes short commutes, low pollution and amount of green space. The editors at BusinessWeek also examined crime rates, job growth, median household income, median home prices and the quality of schools. Recently a reporter called the Lake Norman Chamber for a reaction – was this a welcome surprise? Welcome – yes. Surprise? Not really!

 

Accolades are nothing new to our region. In 2005, the Town of Huntersville was ranked in the Top 100 Best Places to Live (#76) by Money Magazine. The Town of Mooresville has routinely been heralded as one of the nation’s best communities to host new and expanded facilities in Site Selection magazine’s Top 100 Small Towns in America. Davidson, whose population figures usually prevent the town from being considered in national ranking, received more publicity than perhaps any economic development firm or advertising agency could produce when the Davidson Wildcats Basketball Team took the nation by storm falling one basket short of a NCAA Final Four Appearance last March.

What makes our region special? The recognition is a testament to the leadership of our elected officials, business leaders, and civic and service clubs, organizations, and churches who have given their time and talent to make this region a cut above the rest. When there is still much to lament when reading about vacancy rates, unemployment numbers, and falling retail sales, there is still so much to be thankful for. This recent ranking by BusinessWeek Magazine is a testament to so many blessings we enjoy. The lake living lifestyle and our small towns’ charm make our quality of life second to none.  ski

We are excited that one of our towns was singled out as the Best of the Best. However, to the area resident who may live in Cornelius, shop in Huntersville, work in Mooresville, and go to church in Davidson – it is all one big community. Economic downturns and market corrections are never welcome although they are necessary in a capitalistic society.

The Lake Norman Chamber is committed to helping our businesses weather this storm and will continue to provide the training and networking opportunities to help market and promote a healthy business climate. We can take comfort that Lake Norman is a great place to be in a bad time. More importantly, good times and bad, our region is a shining beacon to all as a great place to live, work, and visit.